Four Shops Chomp at BK

Winner to replace Crispin

Burger King has briefed four contenders in its search for an agency to succeed Crispin Porter + Bogusky on its U.S. creative account.

Two contenders used to work on the brand—McCann Erickson and Saatchi & Saatchi—which is not surprising given BK’s past practice of changing agencies every few years. The other players are mcgarrybowen and a team of WPP Group shops led by CHI & Partners. Each agency is pursuing the business from its New York office.

The contenders are now developing creative concepts that they will present to BK executives—including chief brand and operations officer Jonathan Fitzpatrick—in late May. Based largely on those meetings, the fast-food chain will select a new shop. The brand’s annual media spending totals around $300 million. A BK representative declined to discuss the finalists, describing the review process as “confidential.”

Media planning also is part of the assignment. Crispin, the brand’s lead U.S. agency since 2004, is not defending the account. Media buying (at Mindshare) and field marketing (at Wunderman) are not part of the review. Both Mindshare and Wunderman are owned by WPP.

The search follows 3G Capital’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Burger King Holdings last year. That deal triggered the installation of a new CEO and a shakeup in the company’s marketing ranks.

Global chief marketing officer Natalia Franco left in February, after less than a year on the job. Her duties were absorbed by Fitzpatrick, an evp in a broader role than includes operations, marketing, global research and development, product development, and global brand management.